Race Reports The Earnhardt Connection

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Miller Lite 400

Miller Lite 400

Race: Miller Lite 400
Date: June 14, 1998
Track: Michigan Speedway
Qualified: 25th
Finished: 15th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 199 of 200
Points Position Before Race/After Race: 12/12
Points Earned: 118
Money Earned: $38,650

Dale Earnhardt's Sunday afternoon started with a charge.  In the first 20 laps, Earnhardt stormed
from 43rd to 20th position and looked as though he would make a bid for the win.  Dale moved forward so quickly by driving his car deep into the turns, placing his left tires along the white line that separates the apron from the racing surface.  On the straight-aways, however, Dale was barely able to keep up with the competition.  He was making up for his poor straightway speed in the turns.

Unfortunately, Earnhardt's momentum would soon die out.  Shortly after his first pit stop, Dale was unable to move forward like he had done at the beginning of the race.  For the remainder of the race, Earnhardt lingered between 15th and 21st position.

Around lap 83, Dale began a struggle with Jeff Gordon in an effort to keep himself on the lead lap.  After dueling with Gordon for a couple laps, Earnhardt was eventually put a lap down, where he would stay for the rest of the race.

Earnhardt was forced race with his backup car after he slammed into the wall in practice on Saturday following a contact with Rusty Wallace.  His
primary car was damaged beyond repair in an accident during "Happy Hour" on Saturday.  The backup car that he ran was a car that was built for tracks like Dover and Bristol.  Prior to the green flag, the No. 3 team had never practiced the backup car at Michigan.

"I feel like the other car (his primary car) would have been a top-10 car," Earnhardt said.
"We'll get 'em next time. All the guys did a good job. They worked hard as a team and did a good job. Finishing 15th is not that great, but it's better than not racing or not finishing. I really think our primary car was a top-10 car. The crew worked hard and put that short track car together and made a speedway car out of it. We were happy with that. We've got a good car for next week, so we'll have to try to pick it up. We're headed in the right direction."

Richard Childress, who swithched his two teams' crew chiefs on Monday, was happy with the way his teams handled the change.  Dale Earnhardt's crew chief is now Kevin Hamlin, while Skinner's crew chief is now Larry McReynold's.

"We're pleased with the weekend as a whole, but we're not pleased with the finishes," Childress said. "It looks like the changes we made have us headed in the right direction. Both teams communicated well."

Earnhardt is currently 12th in the standings after 14 races this season, 52 points behind 11th-place Bill Elliott and 74 points behind 10th-place Ken Schrader.

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